The long losing streak is over, and it appears the Grizzlies are taking a turn for the better under Lionel Hollins. The Grizzlies won their second straight game on Wednesday, surviving a late rally by Houston to hold on for a 104-93 win. O.J. Mayo scored 32 against the Rockets, two nights after putting up 33 in a win at Washington. The two wins are the first consecutive victories for the Grizzlies in nearly two months and the first consecutive double-digit triumphs in two years.
Hollins now has a 2-3 record as head coach this season, which includes the final three losses of a 12-game skid that followed a surprising 102-82 rout of the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 4. Hollins has made his mark on this team already, moving Mike Conley to the point and proclaiming him the most important part of his system. With that removal of doubt concerning Conley's future with the team, the guard has emerged as a leader. The team has been rejuvenated on the defensive end of the floor, where they got the season off to a good start before struggling in December.
The Grizzlies players have undergone a transformation since the coaching change, both in their play on the court and their overall mindset. They are now exhibiting the belief they have in themselves to win games, whereas earlier in the season they talked the talk but didn't back it up on the court. Their defensive intensity has picked up, and that is the key to their success this year. They were on pace to approach 40 wins before their defense collapsed. Now that it is back, they could win a lot more games in the second half of the season and achieve a respectable finish to the season.